Book 5 Chapter 33: The octagonal building

He had already investigated all three graves at the time and confirmed his theory. The people who were killed after mistreating their parents had all been afflicted by a type of Gu refined from a mixture of plants and animals. This type of Gu was extremely strange and wicked. The “ingredients” were most likely a black cat and a poppy.

Therefore, those who died in the city all seemed to have overdosed on drugs and dug out an eyeball under the influence of hallucinations or the black cat’s enticement.

As for the people in the mountains, the Gu caster seemed to be very familiar with the situation here. He knew the matter wouldn’t be investigated in detail. Therefore, the Gu used here was simpler and even more vicious. The three brothers had all died due to their stomach being split open. It could be assumed that a plant had suddenly burst out from inside them.

If this was really the case, it wasn’t something peculiar since Gu spells were usually rumored to be capable of such things. What was most impressive was how the Gu could exhibit symptoms of a drug, and how the plant could still move, grow and stubbornly thrive after the victim had died.

Furthermore, why use poppies to make the Gu? Poppies were narcotics. What did they have to do with Huang Bo Heng’s sudden rise to power?

To find and thoroughly destroy the roots of those plants, he had dug large pits around the three brothers’ graves, ignoring the mutterings of the “inhabitants”. What surprised him was that the Gu technique had been so strong that the spirits of those three unfilial sons had been completely devoured. Their father, that frail and weak spirit, kept looking pleadingly at him, yet didn’t dare approach and speak due to his power.

Raising a son for a hundred years meant worrying for ninety-nine.

He had heard this saying before. However, from the looks of the pitiful father, it turns out that the love of a parent could transcend death. Although the old man’s spirit also didn’t seem to know the details of this matter, he was afraid and respectful of Ruan Zhan’s power. Therefore, he wanted to beseech Ruan Zhan to save the souls of the three scumbags.

Ruan Zhan wasn’t able to refuse. Although he wasn’t at all sympathetic towards the three fellows who deserved to rot in hell, he had always had a soft spot and a sense of gratitude towards kindhearted ghosts. After all, he had been abandoned by humans yet saved by a ghost!

After he finished restoring two of the graves and was about to work on the third, he suddenly felt a sense of unease in his heart. He could feel Xiao Xia was in danger. Therefore, he immediately put everything down and used the space-warping technique. However, he discovered Xiao Xia was already gone. The village chief’s wooden building was a mess, with only the chief and his family who were unnaturally fast asleep and an unconscious Wan Li remaining.

He guessed Xiao Xia must have run off into the woods. While he was panicked and unsure of how to find her, he felt the danger around her vanish. It seemed she had been saved by someone.

This gave him a few minutes to ponder. He swiftly tidied up the room. Taking a bit of blood from Wan Li and mixing it with his own, he applied it underneath both their eyes.

He did this because Wan Li was currently unconscious and weak enough to be harmed by the slightest thing. He couldn’t stay here to protect him and couldn’t rely on the formation that only guarded against ghosts. Therefore, he had to use a bloodspell to strengthen their connection.

He and Wan Li were friends who had gone through life and death experiences together. However, he hadn’t strongly missed him before so they didn’t have the telepathic connection that he and Xiao Xia shared.

After arranging everything, he entered the deep woods once again. However, he couldn’t find any trace of Xiao Xia. He wasn’t adept at tracking others and the feeling he was getting from her was erratic. This meant that she was still encountering danger yet managed to escape at the last minute each time.

This situation meant that he alternated between worry and relief in the hours before dawn. Only at the end, when Xiao Xia’s telepathic connection sent over a strong, dense Yin aura did he recall that the place with the heaviest Yin aura was the graveyard. He had arrived there in a single step.

“Ruan Zhan! Ruan Zhan!” Xiao Xia cried out as she awoke.

“Here.” Ruan Zhan stretched his hand over.

Xiao Xia grabbed it without hesitation. Only then did she realize the sky was already getting bright. She was lying between gravestones in Ruan Zhan’s arms. The bloodwood sword which had been dropped near the pit was now silently lying next to his legs.

At that moment, she felt as if she were dreaming. Ruan Zhan was rarely this intimate with her. She was also hoping that the recent events hadn’t been real.

However, Ruan Zhan’s sturdy heartbeat and her aching body told her that this was no dream. There was no use in trying to pretend otherwise.

“We have to go back quickly. Wan Li…Wan Li, he….”

“I already know. Don’t worry, I’ll save him.”

“You know?” Xiao Xia asked doubtfully.

She raised her head. In the pale light of dawn, the side of Ruan Zhan’s angular, determined face entered her vision. Although he looked calm, his brows were tightly furrowed and his lips were pursed. His expression was filled with indescribable pressure and loneliness, making Xiao Xia’s heart involuntarily ache.

His life must be exhausting. He had so many secrets hidden in his heart. He bottled everything up and faced everything by himself. He put on a cold, unfeeling layer over himself and also had to add a gentle, refined mask in front of strangers. His existence was more difficult than anyone else!

She really wanted to help him, to warm his heart bit by bit, to hold him and give him comfort. However, whether it was intentional or not, he would keep his distance from everyone, making her afraid to enact her bold “villages encroaching upon the city” plan. She was afraid that the moment she got closer, he would leave.

“I’ve made arrangements.” Ruan Zhan answered, glancing at Xiao Xia.

Although her face was covered in dirt and tear tracks, so much so that her original features were covered, her teary eyes were instead extremely moving and gentle, making his heart beat violently. He hurriedly pulled her out of his embrace, deeply afraid of revealing his inner secret.

“Since you’re awake, it’s best not to linger here. Let’s return quickly!” He drew in the air as he spoke. Before the warped space faded, he lifted the injured Xiao Xia, picked up the bloodwood sword and returned in a single step.

He hadn’t dared use this spell while she was unconscious. He had been afraid it might cause some harm to someone unconscious. Only now did he realize how overprotective he was of her.

“Where is this?” Xiao Xia was placed onto a bamboo bed by Ruan Zhan. She felt the surroundings didn’t seem right, and wondered if he had messed up and carried her to someone else’s place.

“I found a new place to avoid making the villagers suspicious. This place is very remote and no one will come by. It’s easier to act here.” Ruan Zhan explained. “I’ll go carry Wan Li over now. Then I’ll explain everything in detail.”

“But how do we explain things to the village chief and his family?”

“I’ll tell him Wan Li fell ill in the middle of the night, and I took you guys down the mountain early in the morning. Wan Li’s zombie-like appearance has already been engraved in his mind anyway.” Ruan Zhan acted calm as he spoke.

Actually, the troublemaker had inadvertently helped him. The mountain people were hardworking, and would wake up right at dawn. For the sake of convenience, their opponent had cast a spell to prevent the village chief’s family from waking up temporarily. This gave him the opportunity to “move houses”.

He had stumbled across this new place and felt the environment was pretty good. But just in case, he had also asked about this place under the guise of idle chatter.

This was a unique-styled bamboo building. It sat alone upon the mountain slope some distance away from the village. The villagers called it the octagonal building. It was said that prior to the Communist Liberation, a very powerful witch had lived here. After the witch mysteriously vanished, no one had lived here since. Because most of the villagers were superstitious and felt this place was a border between the Yin and Yang realm, no one dared to even get close.

During the Cultural Revolution, a group of Red Guards had come here to make a ruckus. However, each of them ended up mysteriously being afflicted by Gu. They had no choice but to leave in a panic. Although the Gu they had been afflicted with was ordinary, it still tormented them until they wished to die. Luckily, a very experienced Daoist Lord had given them the antidote, allowing them to escape the Gu’s influence.

This matter increased the mystery of the octagonal building. Therefore, this place became even more deserted. Since Ruan Zhan wanted to unravel the forest’s mysteries and wasn’t willing to implicate the innocent, he precisely needed somewhere remote. He wasn’t afraid of the border between worlds. Besides, after entering he found the place to be very clean, not just in appearance but also in aura.

This meant there wasn’t anything supernatural here. The Yin aura was just a little heavier due to it being deep in the mountains and no one having lived here for a while. This also meant some unknown person would frequently come to clean the place, so they only needed to be on guard against humans.

Although leaving Xiao Xia and Wan Li alone felt more dangerous, the truth was that there would be danger no matter where they were. It was better to be somewhere without anyone around. It would allow him to better display his abilities without reservations. Perhaps he should consider teaching Wan Li and Xiao Xia a little bit of sorcery in the future. This would allow them to protect themselves when they were in danger. Of course, they would have to safely and successfully leave this place first.

He swore to himself that he would safely return them to the city, even if he had to sacrifice his own life to do so!

After carrying Wan Li to the octagonal building, he explained the reasoning behind moving here to Xiao Xia. He then immediately returned to the village chief’s place to clean up the aftermath. Although he used the space-warping technique, it was still a spell. Using it so frequently made him almost spit up blood from exhaustion, but he had to bear it.

Luckily, things proceeded rather smoothly. People living in the deep mountains were very honest, making Ruan Zhan feel that lying to them was a sort of sin, even if it was a white lie. Because he still needed to move about in the village and investigate, he claimed he still wanted to learn more about the customs and people here. Therefore he would continue to be a bother to the village chief for a while longer. The village chief naturally agreed happily.

His biggest harvest from bustling about this morning was…he had casually brought up the time he met the weirdo in the woods to the village chief. The chief’s expression was a little strange, as though he was aware that such a person existed. However, Ruan Zhan didn’t immediately question him. He wanted to investigate first before having a discussion with the chief.

Then, he returned to the octagonal building. While cleaning Xiao Xia’s injuries, he had her tell him the details of what she encountered last night.

Now that the dirt had been washed off, Xiao Xia’s delicate face revealed marks of being struck by branches and twigs. It was a startling sight. Her bare skin was filled with scrapes and her twisted right ankle had swollen up. As Ruan Zhan massaged her fair, tender ankle, his heart twisted from sympathy.

“Did I cause trouble again?” Xiao Xia looked at his furrowed brows and asked worriedly.


“You aren’t just saying that to comfort me, right?”

“Believe me, I’m not.” Ruan Zhan answered her seriously.

Sometimes, problems needed to be resolved this way. There needed to be someone unpredictable stirring things up, causing unexpected events, bravely forging forwards, gathering evidence and digging up new leads within danger. Xiao Xia was such a person. Her pursuit of the black cat last night had raised several questions.

Some examples: the weirdo was a woman. She kept talking about “the bride”. This was a connection to that raincoat ghost. The black cat’s behavior indicated that the person behind the scenes was extremely interested in Xiao Xia. Huang Bo Heng was someone who was after Xiao Xia. The weirdo said “that person” was very powerful. This meant she was familiar with him. If that person really was Huang Bo Heng, this proved that he was indeed born here. Furthermore, the speaking cat and the set of footprints proved that their enemy had already arrived at their side!

They were getting close to the truth! Although the answer to the riddles still seemed to be veiled by mist, Ruan Zhan knew that mist would soon disperse. Who would be the person that appeared in the end? Huang Bo Heng? Yang Mu You? Or was there still someone else?

“That…the footprints that chased me, was that a person?” Xiao Xia asked.

“That was a person. However, he is very powerful and knows how to become invisible. That’s why you could only see his footprints.”

“I say, why didn’t the bloodwood sword glow?” Xiao Xia let out a breath. “I thought perhaps it couldn’t be bothered to respond to me!”

“How can that be? It will definitely react when encountering evil. However, since Gu techniques are popular here, those weren’t just simple spirits. Therefore, the sword’s glow won’t be as bright.” Ruan Zhan explained patiently.

“But it also didn’t glow when the “old man” who made me fall into the pit appeared.”

“Lady, you were sitting on his “doorstep” at that time. You felt someone patting your shoulder and saw a figure appear. You might have just been seeing an illusion, not an actual spirit. It was almost dawn already. Besides, he was a benevolent one and wasn’t trying to harm you.” Ruan Zhan understood that the old father of those three brothers just wanted his help. Therefore, he had taken the risk of being harmed by the invisible person and saved Xiao Xia.

That invisible person was most likely Huang Bo Heng, who was particularly interested in Xiao Xia. He was also the black cat’s master. When Xiao Xia inadvertently escaped into the graveyard and was directed towards Ah Mu’s grave by his dad, that person must have thought Ruan Zhan was nearby since the grave was dug up. He might even have suspected Ruan Zhan was lying in ambush inside the grave. Therefore, he chose to leave for his own safety. His paranoia saved Xiao Xia.

“That person…is he Huang Bo Heng?” Xiao Xia asked. Thinking of that person’s impure motives in chasing her at night, and even forcing her to undress for his pleasure, Xiao Xia felt indescribably humiliated.

Ruan Zhan nodded.

“Then I understand why he hates Wan Li so much.” Xiao Xia said in disgust. “You said that casting such a serious Gu requires an intense emotional response.”


“Because…he was bothering me at Guan Zheng’s memorial service so Wan Li pretended to be my boyfriend.”

“No wonder.” Ruan Zhan said in a low voice. Only now did he realize that Gu was intended for Wan Li. Their opponent must have discovered Wan Li’s curious nature and set up a clever trap. Even if he failed that day, he would have tried a different method to harm Wan Li.

Yet how was such a fiendish Gu refined? Had they ended up encountering a genius in the Gu arts?

Thinking of this, he turned to look at Wan Li who still lay unconscious in bed, the black aura still lingering around his face.

“What do we do about him?” Xiao Xia was worried sick.

“He will remain unconscious until I manage to save him!” Ruan Zhan lightly rubbed Xiao Xia’s ankle.

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